Allan Leonard, Alliance Party candidate for Fermanagh & South
Tyrone in the forthcoming elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly,
has severely criticised the Government’s PPS14 policy for failing to
address the more vital issues of the rural community. He said that
while it is crucial to prevent the natural heritage being blighted by
unfettered development, PPS14 does not begin to deal with the real
sources of the threat to the countryside.
Allan Leonard said: “There is no question that recent development
has put some rural areas at risk. We must prevent the excesses that
parts of County Donegal have experienced. We can’t have unfettered
development at the risk of ruining our beautiful natural heritage.
“However, there remain serious social issues in rural areas that
have not been addressed by the Government in these plans. The whole
notion of the future of rural society in Northern Ireland is at stake,
including the succession of farming land.
“We must identify the real source of the threat to the countryside.
There is no problem with farmers’ families living in modest-sized
houses and passing them down the generations. The problem is primarily
the excessive number of people with no rural roots moving to the
countryside into new or renovated properties which are not in keeping
with the surrounding area.
“There are examples of good practice in dealing with this elsewhere
in Europe, even within the UK, from which we need to learn quickly. It
is not enough simply to maintain people in the countryside — we have
to maintain the countryside itself for the coming generations, and
indeed for the many visitors who know it worldwide as an outstanding
“Our objective is a lively, vibrant, rural population rather than an
area destroyed by huge continental-style buildings. PPS14 is trying to
address this, but if fails to deal with many more serious concerns of
those living in the rural countryside.
“If elected to the Assembly, I would introduce the right policies on these important, wider issues.”